Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#26 - The Battle Of Fabletown

Writer: Bill Willingham; Pencils: Mark Buckingham; Inker: Steve Leiahola; Colour: Daniel Vozzo; Letterer: Todd Klein; Cover: James Jean.

pp 01-04 The Outer Barricade

If you turn your mind’s eye back to the previous issue - or, you know, just turn a few pages - you will remember Charming giving Fly a short breakdown of Fabletown’s defences and the thinking behind them. The Fables have the advantage of picking their ground. More than that, they have the advantage of defining their ground.

The wooden soldier’s attack both ends of Bullfinch Street at once. Snow is in the Woodlands looking down from a point that allows her to see all of the action at once. Charming is in command of the troops on the ground. As Pinocchio predicted, bullets aren’t much good against a tree, even after the tree has been carved and animated. There is some talk of shooting for the heads, but the Fables aren’t trained marksmen. They are firing down on the invaders from their apartment windows, but the outer barricades are being overwhelmed.

Don’t worry. That’s all a part of the plan.

pp 05-09 The Inner Barricade

The Fables have now drawn the invaders into Bullfinch Street and away from mundy eyes. Yes, the witches and wizards are helping with that, but all things considered it’s easiest to avoid the mundies by ensuring the action takes place where the mundies can’t see it. So why barricade at all? First, by making the enemy pay for each inch of ground, you cost him lives and resources. Second, if it were too obvious, they wooden soldiers would have become suspicious and not behaved as the Fables wanted them too. Moreover, bringing them all into the one short block has benefits beyond privacy. In the confined area the Adversary’s troops cannot use their greater numbers to their full advantage and buildings above are full of Fables armed with guns. And grenades!

Everyone, including Mr. Toad, riding the cow who jumped over the moon, let’s loose with the grenades and with a much better result than the barrage of bullets. Sadly, their supply of grenades is quickly spent so they send in the bigger Fables for some rough hand-to-hand. There are the Three Bears, Weyland, a rhino, the Beast, Grimble and Hobbes. Also with them Blue, wielding the Vorpal Blade. It says something of his reputation as a war vet that no one thinks his presence odd.

While they make short work of the enemy, everyone retreats behind the next barricade and into the courtyard of the Woodlands.

Don’t worry. That’s all a part of the plan.

pp 10-16 The Courtyard

The wooden soldiers press after them. They crowd into the narrow entrance only to find themselves face to face with a battery of artillery. Cole gives the order and there is sawdust everywhere. Now it’s the Fable’s turn to get cocky. Weyland steps out only to be shot several times. Then Blue is shot. Medics are rushing the wounded to Snow’s giant office, which is now the medical center. Fables they pass include Iron Shoes and some card soldiers from the Red Queen’s court. They go past Jack and Pinocchio. Pinocchio wants to see what’s happening, but Jack has a firm hold on him and won’t listen to the boy’s taunts. Inside the makeshift hospital we see at least seventeen dead and an equal number of injured. Some of the injured are small animals.

The wooden soldiers don’t have the same problem. When one of their number is damaged or killed, they simply take the usable parts and create a new soldier. Seeing this Snow decides it’s time for the next phase of their plans. The car alarms are set off as a warning for the Fables to clear the courtyard. Not all of them make it. Baby ‘Boo’ Bear is cut down in a hail of gunfire. Once they are clear, however, she has Red send out Clara the fire-breathing raven, with orders to torch the invaders. As soon as Pinocchio sees this, he realizes a huge mistake has been made: ‘Snow doesn’t understand! Those creatures are like me! Made like me, of hardwood! Yes, they’ll burn eventually, but not quickly! And until then they’ll still walk and kill and set fire to whatever they touch! Snow’s just created two hundred mobile human torches!’

Okay, now it’s time to worry!

pp 17-20 Fire

In the ensuing chaos Jack and Pinocchio are separated. Jack goes to tell Snow what she already knows about the dangers of setting the soldiers afire, while Pinocchio goes to tell his wooden brothers to stop fighting. Sadly, while they are unfazed by the turn of events, they can’t see too well through the flames that are engulfing their heads. No sooner does Pinocchio get within reach of his wooden brethren than one of them cuts off his head!

Snow gives the orders to prepare an evacuation of the buildings facing Bullfinch and then puts in a call to the thirteenth floor. She wants rain and lots of it. When Totenkinder reminds her that she wanted them to concentrate on keeping the mundies away, Snow’s response is less than kind. The Black Forest Witch leaves the others to provide the rain. She has lesson to teach an unnamed ‘impudent woman.’

Meanwhile a second of the Three Bears falls when Papa Bear takes a hit.

pp 21-23 The Big Bad Saves The Day

Both Cole and Charming rally the troops to face their flaming enemy. The rains aren’t working fast enough. Just as they are about to engage, a huge wind sweeps the block. It both extinguishes the fire and blows the invaders into a wooden heap. A giant wolf strides past the first barricade. Bigby is back and the battle is won.

The battle may be over, but the story has one more issue to go. The Fables honour their dead and that aforementioned lesson is learned the very hard way.


Westside Goth said...

do you read jack of fables? i started last year. first trade was eh. but its gotten funner. though jack is a total punk.

David Bird said...

Yes I do. It took me a little while to warm up to it, too, but I think the metafictional themes that drive its stories are going to be an important part of the Fables' stories from now on too.